Once you make a major purchase (house, car, major appliances) things invariably start breaking down and costing more money. Things break in multiples, the same with bad omens (in 3’s, 5’s, 7’s, like the number of days you can expect a wind storm in France). The shower head started to leak and I put a bucket under it. The dripping hit the soap caddy and ricocheted a few degrees forward. A halo of black mold bloomed there and I sprayed it with fast-acting foam, did 30 push-ups, vacuumed: anything to work through the stress and pressure I felt at work. The problem is I gravitate toward things that cause me stress, kind of need to, to work through the energy in me I can’t reconcile. Maybe it’s why I drink, write, walk, project-manage: things that require pattern-based routine to burn an inner fuel. I don’t know how the fuel got there but if I don’t use it it tends to damage me.
Lily needed a ride to the mall with a new friend, Finn. Finn has a new wave haircut, English accent, Irish mom and German dad. They live in a big green house on the side of a cliff near Tiger Mountain. The GPS on my phone got us close to Finn but not close enough. He came walking up the hill and I watched in the rear view mirror. I liked him right away.
We picked Lily up by the Blue C sushi at the Bellevue mall around 3 and she had a stuffed animal or something, which is odd, because she now looks like a teenager. It’s a weird look, with the stuffed animal.
Lily said Finn got it for her and Charlotte chimed in BECAUSE HE LIKES YOU, and there was a pause before Lily acknowledged yes perhaps, but no—she didn’t tell Finn that, a.) she has a girlfriend, or b.) that she’s “bi.” And we discussed some ways she might do that but didn’t land on anything concrete. And so I just thought about Finn at home thinking about Lily, and about me at the same age: my first girlfriend Melinda LeCount, this same time of year in 1985, making out with her on a cold park bench near Eastertime, trying to keep our noses from running all over each other while we kissed: she with her eyes closed the whole time and me watching her for a bit, then closing mine.
Charlotte and her team placed second in an academic competition related to science and creativity and teamwork, loosely sponsored by the Project Management Institute and DaVinci center. By about a half a percentage they qualified for the next round, state-level competition, and we all went to a Red Robin-type place to celebrate: something like 20 kids and parents, all separate checks, a lot of soda refills and fries, some crying and running around, lots of shit dropped on the floor. I told Charlotte how I won a speech contest when I was about her age, won the first round, then the second, but ‘choked’ at the state-level because I didn’t think I could do it. We’d all gone out to celebrate too, to a place they call The Brass Rail.
The deer and rabbits emerge like woodland creatures now in the mornings, chewing on the edges of our yard. I wrote a bleak poem about death, as winter has its grip on me still, and it goes like this:
Stones and bones [cemetery song]
If it was the last day and you knew it was, what would you do differently?
Would you kiss your kids and hold them and play your favorite songs and drive
a long drive?
And what joy would you find there, knowing it was the last.
And how can we live that way, to enjoy it fully.
And to not know. And squander so much.
And is it that, which makes us so sad
at the end,
how much we didn’t live?